The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Welcome to this week’s review of notable instances of public transit use and urban design, as well as discussion of place identity and culture, through anime currently broadcast or screening in Japan and simulcast internationally via the web. This review also documents seichijunrei (聖地巡礼 sacred site pilgrimage) and butaitanbou (舞台探訪 scene hunting)—on this website referred to collectively as anime pilgrimage—which are forms of place-based engagement induced by the use of real locations in show settings.

2021 Summer Season Overview

Welcome back to a new season of anime settings and background art. There are much anticipated front-runners, several intriguing runners-up, and a few interesting footnotes to round out the bunch. There ought to be something for everyone.

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon S (Kyoto Animation) will get screencap analysis each week. We return to the main settings in Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture and Nihonbashi area in Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis. An expanded introduction is below. Oh, and how great is it to see Kyoto Animation back on TV again?

Shiroi Suna no Aquatope (P.A. Works) will also get weekly screencap analysis each week. Get ready for a two cour P.A.Works series in Okinawa! An expanded introduction is below.

Bokutachi no Remake (Feel) creator Kio Nachi was born in Osaka, raised in Fukuoka, and graduated from Osaka University of Arts. In his multi-pronged career he is a novelist, game scenario writer, graphic designer, VTuber and production manager. He wrote the Bokurema light novels as well as the script for the manga and anime adaptations. This is his first time working on anime based on his own original work. But more significantly, the content of the series in many ways brings to bear the sum of his life experiences. Though not autobiographical, Bokurema is as much as story about Kio and his search for a professional creative path as it is about Kyōya, Shinoaki (and her Hakata dialect), Nanako, Tsurayuki and Eiko.

If that was the extent of what this series offered, I would be onboard already. But if you’re interested in pilgrimage, there is additionally much to appreciate. Also, good luck to you, because there is a wide scope to cover.

Before the time slip, there is a scene at the Shintoshin pedestrian bridge in Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo Metropolis. Kyōya returns to his childhood home via Ōji Station in Ōji, then crosses the Shōwa Bridge over the Yamato River into Ikarugu, in Nara Prefecture. Osaka University of Arts, the share house and surrounding neighborhood are in Kanan, Osaka Prefecture, southwest of Osaka City. A few cuts of Kishio Bridge at the edge of campus in the OP, Kishi Station in Episode 2, and karaoke in Episode 3 are in adjacent Tondabayashi, Osaka Prefecture. Minō Falls in the ED is in Minō, Osaka Prefecture, north of the city. Kudoyama Station in the ED and Kamikosawa Station in the ED and Episode 2/3 are stations on the Nankai Electric Railway Kōya Line in Kudoyama, Wakayama Prefecture. The beach in the ED and Episode 4 is Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture. Nanako’s hometown flashback is Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture, where we see Torahime Station and part of Lake Biwa. Shinoaki’s hometown flashback puts her at Ikisan Station in Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture. There will be a pop quiz later.

Love Live! Superstar!! (Sunrise) is the latest installment of the Love Live! media mix franchise. This iteration makes extensive use of a contiguous cluster of locations from Yoyogi Park (Yoyogi-Kamizonochō, Jinnan) and Harajuku (Jingūmae), Shibuya Ward; to Omotesandō (Jingūmae, Kita-Aoyama), the commercial avenue and surrounding area that spans the border between Shibuya Ward and Minato Ward, all in Tokyo Metropolis. The background art is bright, fresh and full of careful attention to detail. This is a welcome change in a long-running series that, for me, had become a little stale. Though he did not stay on as art director, Nishikawa Yōichi created concept art that serves as the basis for this updated approach. There has been a move away from the Studio Easter/Bamboo/Kusanagi/Nam Hai subcontractor cohort that provided art in the earlier series. Superstar!! uses Studio Jack, which worked on Nijigasaki, and two new faces, Motive and Studio Aqua. I was initially lukewarm to the idea of yet another rehash of the same beats and elements, but these changes definitely caught my attention.

Kageki Shōjo!! (Pine Jam) is set at the Takarazuka Music School and surrounding area in Takarazuka, Hyōgo Prefecture. The setting and history of the Takarazuka Review are things that I’ve long thought I should know better. I just learned, for example, that the Takarazuka Review Company was founded as and remains part of the Hankyū Railway. I doubt a one cour anime will be able to dig deep into everything, the good parts and the many contradictions, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the series does with them.

Before our two leads arrive at the school, they both appear in Tokyo for the first episode prologue and later flashback scenes. Narata Ai is shown in an extended scene in and around Ebisu Station in Shibuya Ward. She has a flashback scene at Hotel New Ōtani in Kioi, Chiyoda Ward. We’re also shown a stark class distinction between Ai’s luxury condo and the danchi where her childhood friend lives. Just prior to joining an idol group, she appears on a tree-lined commercial street, not yet identified. We’re led to think Watanabe Sarasa lives somewhere near the Nakamise Shōtengai in Asakusa, however the street where her family gathers outside their shophouse is the Aomono Yokochō Shōtengai in Minami-Shinagawa, Shinagawa Ward. There’s also one cut of Kabuki-za in Ginza, Chūō Ward linked to one of Sarasa’s family members. Once they have arrived at school, the setting also expands to nearby Kōbe, with scenes at the port and Nankin-machi.

Re-Main (MAPPA) in set in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture. The first three episodes include scenes at the Bikan historical quarter in Honmachi, where the main character lives, adjacent neighborhood in Tsurugata, and the Ebisu-dōri Shōtengai in Achi, which is between Tsurugata and Kurashiki Station.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Sotsu (Passione) returns to Shirakawa-gō, Gifu Prefecture. More gasshō-zukuri, more vindictiveness, more murder. Higurashi only plays one note, but it’s nothing if not consistent.

Mahōka Kōkō no Yūtōsei (Connect) includes extended scenes in Minato Mirai 21, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture in Episode 1. There is a short scene at a tree-lined commercial street in Episode 3. Otherwise, the series takes place primarily in an academy campus setting.

Kanojo mo Kanojo (Tezuka Productions) includes brief cuts of the Tokorozawa Prope Shōtengai, next to Tokorozawa Station in Saitama Prefecture, as well as a residential street and pocket park that may be nearby.

Genjitsushugi Yūsha no Ōkoku Saikenki (J.C.Staff) is isekai. There are brief cuts of Utsunomiya Station and Utsunomiya City Central Library in Tochigi Prefecture before the hero is summoned off to Landia.

Vanitas no Carte (Bones) is set in late 19th century Paris, France with a few steampunk elements.

Media and General Interest

Kan’onji Yuyuyu dōjinshi event
Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru dōjinshi circles and fans gathered for Yusha-bū Kokoroe 17 (勇者部心得、じゅうなーなっ!), the latest installment of Yūsha-bu Mankai (勇者部満開)—a fan-organized exchange event and dōjinshi spot sale—on July 23 at High Staff Hall (ハイスタッフホール) in Kan’onji, Kagawa Prefecture. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4, tweet 5, tweet 6, tweet 7, tweet 8

Yuwaku Bonbori lanterns
Though the Yuwaku Bonbori Matsuri will not be held this year due to Covid-19 concerns, the lanterns will still be displayed in the town between July and October. Lanterns were hung and lit on July 24. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3

Chichibu Anohana events
There was additional reporting on upcoming events celebrating the 10th anniversary of Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (Anohana) in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture, covered previously. Media coverage: Comic Natalie, Anime News Network

Takasaki Cider director tour
Cider no Yō ni Kotoba ga Wakiagaru director Ishiguro Kyōhei (イシグロキョウヘイ) gave walking tours (video 1, video 2) of locations in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture used in the setting of the film.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S

(小林さんちのメイドラゴンS Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon S)

Series Introduction

When the first season of Kobayashi-san Chi no Maidragon premiered in 2017 January, there was a lot to like. The rougher pencil sketch and watercolor backgrounds felt like throwbacks to Munto and Lucky Star. The lack of camera lens blur effect during compositing also let you see all of them. What you saw was what was drawn. It was set somewhere other than Kansai, specifically the commuter town of Koshigaya and a commercial district in Tokyo. It was primarily about working adults, the high jinks of the younger cast members notwithstanding. For all its awkward or problematic content, a carryover from the manga source, at its heart it was an affirming story about diversity, community and familial love.

Those things are still there, but given all that has happened, they feel secondary to the significance of having a Kyoto Animation production on TV again. By necessity, many younger staff have stepped into roles held by colleagues who perished in the 2019 July arson attack. Elements may be less finessed, or at least done differently than they would have been otherwise. Late director Takemoto Yasuhiro’s storyboards survived the fire and are being used, though in taking over Ishihara Tatsuya will of course put his own spin on things. We can applaud and criticize as appropriate, but ultimately I’m just thankful Kyoani still exists.

To my knowledge, there were no efforts to promote tourism to any of the locations depicted in Season 1. At the time of writing, there do not appear to be any for this season, either.

Background Art

Art Director Ochiai Shōko (落合 翔子) takes over from Watanabe Mikiko, who passed away during the attack. Ochiai has worked on background art for many important series, first at studio Bamboo and then with Kyoto Animation. Series as a Bamboo employee include Anohana, Bakemonogatari, The Eccentric Family, Hanasaku Iroha and Steins;Gate. She has been involved with background art on almost all Kyoto Animation series and films beginning with Free! Eternal Summer in 2014, and (not including art co-director role on the Baja no Studio OVA) served as art director for the first time on Tsurune.

Background art will be produced by a combination of in-house artists and staff from Studio Blue (スタジオBLUE) in Seoul, South Korea, a fully owned subsidiary of Kyoto Animation.

Fan Pilgrimage Update

@york21c made a pilgrimage to Nihonbashi-Ningyōchō and Nihonbashi-Hamachō, Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis for Episode 2.

Opening Credits

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Koshigaya (越谷), Saitama Prefecture

Shirakobato Bridge (しらこばと橋)

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Motoara River (元荒川)

Episode 1

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Koshigaya (越谷), Saitama Prefecture

The apartment is a fictional building but the site is real, at the edge of the Motoara River, within sight of the Shirakobato Bridge.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

The maid cafe is likely also fictional.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

The confrontation with Elma and then Ilulu takes place in front of Saitama Resona Bank Koshigaya branch (埼玉りそな銀行越谷支店), on the east side of Koshigaya Station.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Koshigaya Station (越谷駅)

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Nihonbashi-Ningyōchō (日本橋人形町), Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Ningyōchō Station (人形町駅)

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Between Ningyōchō Station and Koshigaya Station, there are some Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line (東京メトロ日比谷線) trains with through service on the Tobu Skytree Line (東武スカイツリーライン) and vice versa. In Maidragon thus far, only the Tōkyū 8500 series (東急8500系) trains used by Tobu are depicted.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Koshigaya Station

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Episode 2

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Here the camera hovers over Nihonbashi-Ningyōchō (日本橋人形町), Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis, looking southwest.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Koshigaya (越谷), Saitama Prefecture

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Nihonbashi-Ningyōchō

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

The office where Kobayashi works is in a fictional building drawn at the Higashi-Nihonbashi intersection (東日本橋交差点) in Nihonbashi-Hisamatsuchō (日本橋久松町).

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Nihonbashi-Ningyōchō

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Kobayashi emerges from an alley into the street along Hamachō Midoridō Park (浜町緑道公園). The park is a greenway that divides the two sides of an arterial road in Nihonbashi-Hamachō (日本橋浜町).

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Hamachō Park (浜町公園) is a much larger park, along the Sumida River in Nihonbashi-Hamachō.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Episode 3

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Koshigaya (越谷), Saitama Prefecture

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

Here the camera hovers over Higashi-Nihonbashi (東日本橋), looking into Nihonbashi-Hisamatsuchō (日本橋久松町), Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S 小林さんちのメイドラゴンS

The Aquatope on White Sand

(白い砂のアクアトープ Shiroi Suna no Akuatōpu)

Series Introduction

I have mixed feelings about P.A. Works series. The “working” trilogy series are thoughtful and insightful. The magical realism and humor in Uchōten Kazoku makes it the most balanced for me and is my favorite. The fantasy heavy series are not my thing. Aquatope appears to be a blend of working, a small amount of magic, and a little Okinawan folk culture thrown in for flavor. I’m hopeful this will turn out to be a good one.

The main base of the setting is Nanjō (南城市), on the southern side of Okinawa-hontō, the main island, but there are also a few scenes in Naha and individual cuts plucked from elsewhere.

Locally, there are a few low-profile indications of tourism promotion using the series at the Naha Airport and in Nanjō. A representative of the Nanjō tourism division is even built into the main cast in character Kudaka Karin. My hunch is there would have been more vigorous efforts to promote travel to Okinawa were it not for Covid-19.

Historically, P.A. Works is known for weaving regional revitalization and tourism promotion into its location based works, but for the most part has been careful to offer activities that compliment rather than supplant self-initiated, subculture originating practices like butaitanbou and seichijunrei. However, this was not the case with Kamisama ni Natta Hi, though it is unclear if the ham-handedness in that case was attributable to the studio itself or local tourism organization in Yamanashi City. For Aquatope, I recognize that tourism is a significant part of the local economy in Okinawa, so its inclusion in the narrative is not out of place. Furthermore, Sakura Quest showed that revitalization and tourism could be central features of the narrative without leading to local activities that overdo promotion. But I remain wary of detailed location maps or other indications that the studio and/or city tourism division is trying to engineer anime pilgrimage.

Background Art

Art Director Suzuki Kurumi (鈴木 くるみ) has previous served as art director for The Day I Became a God, Iroduku: The World in Colors and Love Live! Sunshine!! (S2), and has worked on background art for Fruits Basket (2019), KuromukuroLove Live! School idol project, Napping Princess and Red Data Girl.

Art Setting Shiozawa Yoshinori (塩澤 良憲) has previously worked on background art for Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home, A Lull in the Sea, Tari Tari and Your Lie in April.

Studio Easter (スタジオイースター) in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan has previously worked on background art for Angel Beats!, Aria the Origination, The Day I Became a God, Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater, Flip Flappers, Fruits Basket (2019), Genshiken series, Hanasaku Iroha (TV series and film), Iroduku: The World in Colors, Is the order a rabbit?, KuromukuroLove Live! School idol project (TV series and film), Love Live! Sunshine!! (TV series and film), A Lull in the Sea, March comes in like a lion, Napping Princess, Noragami, Oreimo, Red Data Girl, Saki series, Silver Spoon (S2), Sing “Yesterday” for Me, Steins;Gate (TV series and film) and Tari Tari.

Fan Pilgrimage Update

@fragments_sue made a pilgrimage to Naha, Nanjō, Itoman and Yomitan, Okinawa Prefecture for Episode 1 and Episode 2.

@Deep_adultweet made a pilgrimage to Tokyo Station for Episode 1.

Episode 1

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Though most of the first episode takes place in Nanjō and a little in Naha, there are two one-off locations. One of these is the very first cut, a stone monument along the southern coast in Itoman (糸満市), Okinawa Prefecture. At the time of writing, there are no other known locations here.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Undetermined

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Nanjō (南城市), Okinawa Prefecture is the primary setting of Aquatope. Azama Sun Sun Beach (あざまサンサンビーチ) is an important location, as this is where the fictional Gama Gama Aquarium is located. The Chinen (知念) district (formerly an independent village), of which the beach is a part, is where most of the locations in Nanjō are concentrated. Except where noted otherwise, the rest of the Aquatope locations in Weekly Review 425 are in Chinen.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Astral (アストラル @fragements_sue) scoured Nanjō and only found one location that has wind turbines, near the Nirai Kanai Bridge Observatory.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

National Route 331 (国道331号)

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The shrine in front of Kukuru’s home is the other one-off location in Episode 1. This is found at Cape Zanpa (残波岬) in Yomitan (読谷村), Okinawa Prefecture. The kanji for the shrine name is 西ノ神之屋, but seems to be read Iri nu kami nu yā (イリヌカミヌヤー), which my guess is either Okinawan Japanese or one of the traditional Okinawan or Kunigami languages. I’m beyond my knowledge base here.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

There is a street that generally resembles this area, with the ridge and blue roofed building in the background, but it’s not a precise match, the shrine is from another location as mentioned, and Kukuru’s house isn’t here.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Multiple aquariums were consulted and are credited, including one in Okinawa (not Churaumi), but none of them resemble the Gama Gama Aquarium in any unique way. It appears to be a completely fictional location.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

View of Shinjuku, but the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is missing

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Tokyo Station (東京駅)

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Undetermined

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Tokyo Station

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Naha Airport (那覇空港) in Naha (那覇市), Okinawa Prefecture

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Okinawa Urban Monorail (沖縄都市モノレール), commonly called Yui Rail (ゆいレール)

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Kokusai-dōri (国際通り) in Naha

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Shijō Hon-dōri (市場本通り) in Naha

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Naha Bus Terminal (那覇バスターミナル)

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Tamagusuku (玉城), Nanjō

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Hyakuna Bus Terminal (百名バスターミナル) in Tamagusuku

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Tamagusuku

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Tamagusuku

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Tamagusuku

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Hyakuna Beach (百名ビーチ) in Tamagusuku

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Hyakuna Beach

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

There is a candidate location for this, confirmed by several visitors, but it’s difficult to say it is a definitive match.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Fūka walks along National Route 331. In the background is the Nirai Kanai Bridge (ニライカナイ橋).

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Shikiya Campground (志喜屋キャンプ場)

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

National Route 331

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

I figure the Nanjō tourism association character gets her name from Kudaka-jima (久高島), a small island 5km east of Cape Chinen.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Azama Sun Sun Beach. For two weeks I couldn’t figure out what the tower in the background was. I should have just asked! It’s a water tower. [Credit: @Harahara1238, Twitter; @bluetwintail, Twitter]

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Opening Credits

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Undetermined. Astral suspects this is a fictional location.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Azama Sun Sun Beach (あざまサンサンビーチ)

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

National Route 331 (国道331号)

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Undetermined

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Kameichi is a fictional building, but the location exists. More on that below.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The izakaya are in an alley one block west of Shijō Hon-dōri in Naha, in the same area where Fūka walks and meets the fortune teller in Episode 1.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Undetermined

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Undetermined

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Undetermined

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Undetermined

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Undetermined

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Cape Chinen Park (知念岬公園)

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Undetermined

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Cape Chinen Park

Episode 2

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Azama Sun Sun Beach (あざまサンサンビーチ)

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

National Route 331

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Kameichi is not a real business, but I wish it were! This seems to be the third place for the main cast.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The adjacent structure is here, a building resembling Kameichi is not. But what you will find just up the road is Ganjū-eki Nanjō (がんじゅう駅・南城), the local tourism information center, where at the time of writing there is a display of Aquatope character panels.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Azama Sun Sun Beach

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Iri nu kami nu yā (西ノ神之屋) at Cape Zanpa (残波岬) in Yomitan (読谷村), Okinawa Prefecture.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Azama Sun Sun Beach

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Road between Kudaken Beach and Cape Chinen

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Kudaken Beach (久手堅ビーチ)

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Episode 3

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Azama Sun Sun Beach (あざまサンサンビーチ)

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Azama Sun Sun Beach

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

National Route 331 (国道331号)

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The traffic jam prompts a detour, however the first turn is actually just a parking spot for the house next to it, not a through road, near Kancha Park. [Credit: @mine_tear1210, Twitter]

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

This side road branches off National Route 331, but further south in Tamagusuku. [Credit: @mine_tear1210, Twitter]

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Further along the same road, probably about here. [Credit: @fragments_sue, Twitter]

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The last cut of the detour is way back in Chinen, north of where they supposedly turned off the main road. [Credit: @mine_tear1210, Twitter]

It’s a fun scene, but not based on the real world spatial relationships of these locations.

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Undetermined

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

The Aquatope on White Sand 白い砂のアクアトープ

Other Current Season Pilgrimage

@teo_imperial made a pilgrimage to Jingūmae and Jinnan, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo Metropolis for Love Live! Superstar!! Episode 1 and Episode 2.

Past Season Pilgrimage

@Bf109K1 made a cycling pilgrimage to locations between Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture and Ōtsu, Shiga Prefecture for the cross country journey in Super Cub Episode 12. He also published a companion article about the experience of traveling the route on bicycle. He is considering ultimately to cover each section of the complete route to Cape Sata in Kagoshima Prefecture.

@lidges made a pilgrimage to Cape Sata in Minamiōsumi and Tarumizu, Kagoshima Prefecture for Super Cub Episode 12.

@fureshima2223 made a pilgrimage (post 2) to Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture for Super Cub.

@kimamanidance made a pilgrimage to Shinjuku 3-chōme, Shinjuku Ward; Asagaya-Minami, Suginami Ward (both Tokyo Metropolis) for Jujutsu Kaisen.

@krissy297_ph made a pilgrimage to Harajuku (Jingūmae) and Yoyogi, Shibuya Ward; Kabukichō, Shinjuku Ward; Kichijōji, Musashino (all Tokyo Metropolis) for Jujutsu Kaisen.

@626shin made a pilgrimage to Ashikita, Kumamoto Prefecture for Hōkago Teibō Nisshi OP/ED, Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4/5 and Episode 6.